Charlotte Kalla is Sweden’s rising star of Cross-Country skiing. The 23 year-old youngster stormed into World Cup in 2006. A year later she captured her first World Cup podium in Beitostoelen. In 2008 she won Tour de Ski. She is Olympic Champion from Vancouver over 10 km Free. FIScrosscountry.com had a chance to talk to Charlotte in Ramsau.
FIS Cross-Country News: Charlotte, media reported you would be back at Tour de Ski this year. Why did you decide like that and what are your expectations?
Charlotte Kalla: I think that scheduling of the World Cup is much better than last year. World Champs is later and you can forget travelling oversees with time differences. I think that Tour de Ski is really a fun competition. I like it a lot and have a lot of nice memories about it
FIS Cross-Country News: Will it be you main goal this season?
Charlotte Kalla: No, the big goal is the World Champs. But the Tour is definatelly number two.
FIS Cross-Country News: How important is the glacier training in your off-season preparation?
Charlotte Kalla: It is very important. It is really nice be on snow again. It is really important to work on technique here. There is a difference between rollerski and “real” skiing technique.
FIS Cross-Country News: There are quite many talented young athletes in the Swedish team like you. How does it work with more experienced skiers?
Charlotte Kalla: Me personally was inspired by younger athletes. In 2006 Brita Johanson Norgren made it to the Olympics and performed very well. So she inspired me a lot. I hope that my performance has inspired more athletes and not only from Sweden. It has been big fun to be in the young team. There is great spirit among us.
FIS Cross-Country News: What are your goals for the season?
Charlotte Kalla: I hope to be in the best shape when World Championships come and fight as good as I can and make it to the top.
French Jean-Marc Gaillard belongs to the top Cross-Country skiers. He made his World CUp debut in 2001 in Cogne. Seven years later at the Pre-World Champs race in Liberec he conquered his first World Cup victory. Since then he has collected at World Cup two second placesand two third spots with French relay.
Q: Jean-Marc, you’ve finally found the snow during a seminar held in Tignes last week. How did it go?
Jean-Marc Gaillard: This training camp in Tignes went very well. Despite the mild weather, conditions on the glacier remained relatively good. I’m more worried about our camp next week if it does not snow by then … Otherwise, the atmosphere is always excellent in the group and the team is training hard for new season.
Q: What was your program?
JMG: We skied every day changing skating and classic techniques. In afternoon we carried out running, strength training and roller skiing sessions. The difference with the summer sessions is that the high intensity are slightly more likely to recover gradually the pace for the next competition … ”
Q: In Summer we saw at several events in Norway. You have been there for a few seasons, why?
JMG: It is true that since 2 years, I have not hesitated going to Norway in the summer if I get the chance. There are several reasons for this: Firstly, I have always enjoyed the sport and my country allows me to go there from time to time, so I take advantage! Moreover, it is a great opportunity to discover new areas and thus vary somewhat our “spots” drive. Finally, it is also an opportunity to meet “colleagues” from winter in much more relaxed atmosphere.
Q: How do you feel comparing to this time last year? Same or worse?
JMG: If you follow the news, everyone seems to be much stronger than the year before. Surely a little intimidating! I feel very well but now but nothing exceptional either. I especially hope to be fit for big events… The shape is not very important now!
Q: You entered winter 2010 in a great style with the 5th place overall in Tour de Ski. You missed the podium by about twenty seconds. You said then that “you missed a little of everything” to enter the top 3?
JMG: I think seriously about Tour de Ski 2011. I performed quite well at last two editions and this time I will come with bigger confidence. I know now that this race format suits me. In order to reach the podium I will have to keep up with the best in distance races, limit the damage in two sprints and finally have a big day at the 20 km classic in Val di Fiemme. What a great program!
Q: Who will be your main rivals?
JMG: The opponents, I think we all know them … but hopefully we will keep several French in the game for podium.
Q: In 2009 you had not shone in the world of Liberec, while the rest of your season was excellent.
JMG: It’s not that simple … Indeed, during the Turin Olympics in 2006 World Championships in Sapporo in 2007, I arrived every time in the top shape and delivered the best season results. I do not think that my preparation for the big events is so bad. Liberec for example, I was not so bad, but I fell ill. I’m not going to jeopardize all the preparation but rather adjust some things and try to arrive in the same spirit as for a normal World Cup.
Q: Will you come to Oslo with big ambitions?
JMG: In Oslo, I hope to get stronger but you can not say that categorically, that is sport! So of course, as I say I’ll change my approach a bit to the event … and I’ll try to get to the top because these World Championships will certainly be the best competition we will have the opportunity to take part in.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.